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Surprise therapy dog visit cheers up patients and staff

23 December 2014


Tongues and tails were wagging for patients at Southend Hospital recently as they were given a surprise Christmas visit by Buddy and Zeke, a pair of PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs.

Buddy, a black Labrador, and Zeke, a Tibetan spaniel, came to cheer up patients across several of the wards. Accompanying them both were PAT dog volunteers, Sylvia Wand (owner of Buddy) and Helen Crowfoot (owner of Zeke).  

Shirley Newton, a patient at the hospital who was visited by the PAT dogs and volunteers, said: "I was so pleased to see the dogs especially as I have just been given a dog for Christmas, it relieved the tedium of the afternoon.  Seeing the two dogs and the volunteers in their bright yellow t-shirts really brought sunshine to the ward. They were so excited and proud of their dogs, it was lovely."

PAT volunteer and Buddy's owner, Sylvia Wand, Thorpe Bay, has been visiting Southend Hospital with her pets for over 20 years and Buddy has been her loyal companion for the past ten. Sylvia said: "I continue to visit because it is a pleasure to see the surprise and delight on patients' faces when they see us. All my dogs have been great, but Buddy is so laid back and docile, that even the most nervous of patients welcome him."

Buddy and Zeke also have their very own Southend passes, just like all the staff.

Voluntary services manager at Southend Hospital, Jane O'Connell, added: ""We are very lucky to have around seven PAT dogs who, along with their owners, regularly visit wards to cheer up patients. To see patients' faces light up when the dogs arrive can bring a tear to the eye."

Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983. It is unique in that it provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues by volunteers and their vaccinated dogs and cats.

PHOTO: (l-r) Patient Shirley Newton, volunteer Helen Crowfoot and her dog Zeke, Buddy the Labrador. 

More photos are available on our  facebook page.